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Diary
By toxicfur (Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 04:52:46 AM EST) (all tags)
As Kellnerin said in her review, "that's some motherfucking Agency."

I am writing this post-mortem while waiting for a phone call from the new dog's current mom. She's going to be bringing some of his apparently extensive collection of stuff. She didn't think we'd be able to bring all of the stuff + dog in one car trip tomorrow.



Overall, I think this is one of my favorite stories that I've written. Granted, "Agency" doesn't have a lot of competition, as I don't write a lot of fiction, and I'm generally unhappy with 95% of everything I write. The comments I got were gratifying, though I was a bit disappointed that my little box wasn't clicked more. It seems like the less I like a story, the more votes it gets. I think I don't know my audience well enough, and the competition gets stiffer every time. I do think this story is probably worth a rewrite, though, so please post critiques, if you want.

Prior to the Sunday before the deadline, I had decided that I would forgo the WFC this round. The only idea I'd had was a time-loop of the death of a driver and a deer, with the consciousness reborn alternately into the man and the animal. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to write something without dialogue, and the concept seemed increasingly, well, stupid.

The Sunday before the deadline, though, in the Writing Chat that Kellnerin and ana host, I got the idea for "Agency." The first 10-minute prompt is always 5 random words to be used in a story or essay - one of the words was "agency." I had the idea to use the word not in the pop-psychology sense, and "Agency" grew from there.

I browsed amazon's Motivational Self-Help category, looking for as many buzz-words I could find for both Mickey King (name came from ana's spam box) and for Chad, who I wanted to come across as a true believer. I also used my own therapy experience, during which my therapist forced me to put my feelings in the standard sentence: "When ___ do/does ____, I feel [glad, mad, sad, or scared]." I found this exercise ridiculous.

I think the characters themselves worked for the most part (and I got some good feedback about the characters). I saw Chad as someone who really loved his boyfriend Henry, and who had invested a lot in their relationship, but who just couldn't put up with Henry's inertia and general laziness. Henry was, in general, a self-centered asshole. I feel comfortable writing self-centered assholes. I sometimes wonder what that says about me.

There were two real problems that I can see in the story. 1) Some of the dialogue was far too awkward. It should have been easy to read aloud, and the buzzwords needed to read smoothly. Editing would have taken care of this problem, and, for once, I actually had time to edit and I didn't. My bad.

2) At least one person complained that they didn't buy the ending, and I agree. It more or less comes out of nowhere (I seem to have that problem with endings). I needed to show Henry getting more and more annoyed, more twitchy, less willing to just sit their passively. He finally overcame his inertia, and I needed to show how he got there a bit better.

Also, he asked for the wrong thing from Mickey King. Henry was dying for a cigarette, and I know from experience that the craving will drive damn near everything else out of one's head - the last thing he'd be thinking about was his book. So here is my rewrite of the denoument:

"Oh, thank you for being here, Mr. King," Chad said. "My partner and I are really hoping this is the beginning of a new life of health and determination for us. When you discuss ways to become more deliberate in seeking our path to agency, I feel glad."

I rolled my eyes and compulsively opened and closed the tiny blade on my Swiss army knife. Mickey King beamed at Chad and then turned to me. "Should I sign the book to the both of you, then?" I shrugged. "Oh, come now," he continued. "The first step to agency is recognizing what you really, truly want, and taking steps to get it."

"What I want," I said, opening the blade again, "is a fucking cigarette. Do you think you can help me with that? My loving partner seems to think that talking to you is more important." I felt Chad shifting uncomfortably beside me.

"If you follow my course - and we'll practice these techniques in a few minutes - then you'll have what you truly desire. And I can assure you that you are trapped in your false desire for nicotine. Drugs impede the path to authentic self-fulfillment." He paused and licked his thin, dry lips. "Agency. That's what it's all about."

Agency. I took the flimsy knife from my pocket and drove it into the side of his neck, ripping raggedly through the skin and using my thumb to keep the knife from buckling. I pulled the blade along his carotid or jugular or whatever that vein or artery or whatever is. The blood spurted over my hand, and I couldn't take my eyes off it. It was even better than acid. So vibrant. So colorful. So warm. I stepped back lit a cigarette, carefully keeping the blood from soaking the tobacco. Mickey King's eyes were bulging and blood gurgled from his mouth and dripped off his chin. I turned to Chad, blowing smoke in his face and grinning. "Agency. He's right, you know. I feel like a new man already."

< I Want A Refund!!! | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
WFC Post-Mortem | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
This is nice. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 05:21:03 AM EST
It's like getting the DVD special feature alternate ending.

This is what post-WFC autopsies are made for.

I couldn't get half way through yours by debacle (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 11:10:29 AM EST
But I read the story/commentary about five times.

Very interesting. You put a lot into the writing process.


IF YOU HAVE TWO FIRLES THOROWNF MONEY ART SUOCIDE GIRLS STRIPPER HPW CAN YPUS :OSE?!?!?!?(elcevisides).

[ Parent ]
I'm always a bit in awe... by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 11:24:56 AM EST
of just how much stuff CRwM has in his head. Puts my zero planning and hour of work on my story to shame.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
I agree by debacle (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 11:34:03 AM EST
I found the commentary much more enjoyable than the writing. Not that the writing was bad - the commentary was just that good.

He should do some MST3K type of commentaries. It would be very interesting.


IF YOU HAVE TWO FIRLES THOROWNF MONEY ART SUOCIDE GIRLS STRIPPER HPW CAN YPUS :OSE?!?!?!?(elcevisides).

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry you didn't like it. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #12 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 09:51:32 AM EST
Though I'm glad you found something of interest in the commentary.

Can I ask why you found the story so bad? I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing and the feedback would be welcome.

[ Parent ]
I suppose it may have been by debacle (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Sep 03, 2006 at 06:18:10 AM EST
My mood at the time. The story was very plot-free, and after working for 13 days straight I very much needed a break from my plot-free interaction-free work environment.

The interest in the commentary was that it was more a picture of you than a commentary on your work - I got to see something that I very much appreciate in the way of writing - how other people do it.

It wasn't bad - the style was good and the premise was interesting and rich in an almost gothic flavor - it's just that it was a faded and fuzzy black and white photo of an outdated cultural reality. It always felt like the camera angle was a far overhead shot - something out of Citizen Kane. First person, or a nearer second person might have been a better choice of perspective for making it a more powerful read.


IF YOU HAVE TWO FIRLES THOROWNF MONEY ART SUOCIDE GIRLS STRIPPER HPW CAN YPUS :OSE?!?!?!?(elcevisides).

[ Parent ]
debacle, I really like your by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Sep 03, 2006 at 09:50:10 AM EST
critiques of the stories - they're really thoughtful, and I'd appreciate a critique of mine. I'm considering a rewrite for my own enjoyment, and critiques would help.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
Be more cogent. by debacle (4.00 / 1) #15 Sun Sep 03, 2006 at 11:13:25 AM EST
And care about your characters.

IF YOU HAVE TWO FIRLES THOROWNF MONEY ART SUOCIDE GIRLS STRIPPER HPW CAN YPUS :OSE?!?!?!?(elcevisides).

[ Parent ]
I'll keep it in mind. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 09:36:33 AM EST
Thanks for the read. I was going for a certain level of distance, but perhaps I over did it and bled the thing dry.

Live and learn.

[ Parent ]
this is also by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 05:59:05 AM EST
one of my favorites of the stories you've written. It works well as a whole ... the characters and their motivations are set up quite nicely. And I liked the original ending quite a bit, but this one is better.

--
Do not misuse.
oh, and by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 06:05:05 AM EST
if you had set the time-loop story in the Star Trek universe, I think it would have written itself.

--
Do not misuse.
[ Parent ]
Hah! by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 06:13:56 AM EST
That's a good idea. Perhaps I should learn to write fanfic.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
I thought it was a good job by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 06:46:33 AM EST
Highest rated in my mini-review.

It worked for me.

Gedvondur
"I don't have enough middle fingers to communicate my feelings to you." --clover kicker

Thanks! by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #6 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 06:49:07 AM EST

--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
cool by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 07:22:42 AM EST
Much better ending.

-- Do the math.
Yeah! by blixco (4.00 / 1) #8 Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 10:44:19 AM EST
That!  Like the ending.

Loved the whole thing, though, even the old ending.  Damn fine story.
---------------------------------
Taken out of context I must seem so strange - Ani DiFranco

WFC Post-Mortem | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback